Celebrating my own Paleoart Education.


From very early in my life,  one of my main interests have always been the popularisation of the accurate (but attractive) image of the Dinosauria. Decades ago I was given a couple of books that, apart from my father’s own art lessons,  were my main paleoart education. In recent times I have had a happy reunion with these popular press books  and have been able again to admire the quality of some of their illustrations.  They are not only affectionate memories. This Giant Funtime Book of Dinosaurs  for example looked positively huge in my tiny hands in those ages…but the awesome (now defunct as genus) ‘Brontosaurus’ (AKA Apatosaurus) occupied two pages, was detachable  and could stand with the aid of its  bases. This little museum piece  is hard to find these days but I owe it to my partner Carmen and an e-bay link found by Mike Fredericks of the essential source Prehistoric Times. Look out for my new interview and feature of new stuff in one of the forthcoming issues


Needless to say we can expect that being the popular press from the Fifties and Sixties,  tails would be on the ground, T rex would have four fingers, the dinosaurs were all either green, grey or brown and the information about prehistoric animals was at best sketchy and far from what we know now… and even more unfortunately: pterosaurs,  mammoths, mastodons and Dimetrodon would inevitably pass as dinosaurs!.

But one thing that is evident and shines through in these  books is that the artists could DRAW. They really understood basic animal anatomy, not  copied blindly other artists, even if sometimes inevitably the influence of Zallinger slips surreptitiously (or blatantly) in. Yes, their animals look natural compared to so many lavish CG atrocities I see in many books and magazines today… the colourful stamps of Matthew Kalmenoff,  and the slick, simple line drawings by Robert Gartland  of the Golden Stamp Book  of Animals of the Past  are a lesson to any paleo artist even today. For me they were the forerunners of the revolution by Zdenek Burian, my all time favourite. These were for children while Burian was for adults… but just as important!

Golden Book1Golden Book8 Golden Book6 Golden Book3 Golden Book2

For paleoart, as for everything else, you need a positive,accurate education. The images you grow up with always  acquire a especial, transcendent  dimension, so I learned it’s important that they have a real artistic quality. Here are two of my own father’s Luis Rey Valderas wash paleoimages from the sixties… volcanoes everywhere! Not too bad isn’t it?


And as times passes by, what you gave to your parents as gifts in the past are back into your hands…the first book I did myself (age twelve) suddenly came back to haunt me. It was a compilation of old images (butchering and gluing all sorts of what passes for memorabilia now, from the Sinclair album to some of the stamps from the Golden Stamp Book) with my own text. It reads so funny today, but was deadly serious then… even in those ages I was obsessed with accuracy and up-to date information, And hey, the cover was mine at least,,, it is a long way off from Extreme Dinosaurs!… here it is at last: my first real dinosaur book cover for “Vida Prehistórica”… a coloured pencil three fingered T. rex? Damn it! What was I thinking?!

Vida Prehistórica

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More Cheap Thrills… this time Therizinosaurus!

I have to admit, I’m puzzled by the Collecta toy models..,. sometimes they are terrible and sometimes that are almost arty! At least they surely have a personality and I see an effort to keep to date with the “New”  Dinosaur Look…And I also have to admit that I really liked this new Therizinosaurus from them. The anatomy is >almost< right (there are some obvious concessions in order to balance the dinosaur on its two feet unaided,  something it manages marvellously). The dramatic pose is so similar to my own approach -fairly well documented in this Blog- that I had to do something with the dull colours they painted it with originally… For fun, I  have painted  it  now with an old pattern of mine.  I like to continue the “tradition” of patterns I created in the past, projecting them into the future… that happened with this also old collaboration with Dorling Kindersley… It was one of the few more or less decent CG artist works that were done under my supervision for the DK Dinosaur Encyclopaedia of Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Life I collaborated with Darren Naish in the early 2000’s. And the artist seemed also inspired by my zebra pattern!10943651_1015765971784281_4894518361892717592_n

So here for your enjoyment, a couple more shots from my recently revamped Collecta toy… hopefully there will be more in the future!CollectaB-2CoillectaB-3And all be cause of this… an Oldie that started the trend in the 90’s first published in Extreme Dinosaurs!OldTherizinosaurusB

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Introducing: New protagonists for 2015.

AlamosaurusBWhat is behind the story of this new tyrannosaur saga? A few months ago a manuscript  landed on my desk. Mike Kelly, knowledgeable dinosaur fan and a man that is becoming fast a new patron of the Paleo Arts and quality Paleaortists around the world, was proposing me the making of a comic (like the one I did for Marvel many years ago). I was reluctant at the beginning , but reading the manuscript I reckoned it was not only a  well researched and palaeontologically accurate work of fiction..,. it had also dramatic and well crafted story lines that will thrill millions when it’s published.  It is a book entirely dedicated to the life and times of tyrannosaurs,  their way of life, struggles and… prey… However, the text is so good that it was a pity to downgrade it to mere side notes in a comic strip… so I proposed instead of doing several illustrations for every story, keeping the text intact. And he accepted.

The first story has as protagonists a herd of Alamosaurus being stalked and chased by a flock of T. rexes (in several stages of growth)… T. rex always brings Triceratops to mind but…We have seldom seen T. rex attacking a gigantic titanosaur like  Alamosaurus.  So I proceeded to do a restoration based on  current research…And here’s what is behind those first protagonists.DSC_5580Some of you may have seen this picture of the new Alamosaurus mount in Dallas. I love to do reconstruction exercises based on museum mounts… just imagining them in the flesh and at that same enormous size… and that is exactly what I did as a first step. It will be some time before the whole project is finished… how are we planning to have T. rex solve the problem of tackling prey this size? Watch this space in  months to come!AlamosaurusB2As an extra, the Quetzalcoatlus accompanying mount deserved a reconstruction here…. but, sorry , Mammoths are not allowed !

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Greetings from this Blog!

…just in case there’s anybody I couldn’t reach!  It’s been quite a year… beware of straying asteroids in the next one… and thanks for keeping communication open!Card1B

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Fossils For Africa is out… and not all are dinosaurs of course!

Eupark F

This little Euparkeria (revised  by John Hutchinson  and Dave Hone, both of whom I also thank here) is one of the several new illustrations featured in the new Anusuya Chinsamy-Turan  book “Fossils For Africa” that I have been advertising here for a while… it also has the first time ever printed version of my “new” Spinosaurus and some other novelties like this Carcharodontosaurus with Ornithocheirus prize, Patalititan titanosaurs included!. I was inspired by a skeletal diorama that I have seen recently… only that the diorama was an Irritator not this gigantic carnosaur!Carcharo-ornithoFNeedles to say Fossils for Africa is an erudite, popular treaty on African prehistory (as any publication Dr. Chinsamy-Turan is involved with). Although well printed, I was somewhat disappointed of the size and specially the size of the illustrations, so don’t expect lavish, big illustrative displays… it is however a more  specialist venture and has >more< illustrations  than my previous effort with her in Famous Dinosaurs of Africa, so I throughly recommend it!

The book can be ordered  from the Cambridge University Press website http://cup.co.za/products/fossils-for-africa

Here are a couple of outtakes that didn’t make it to the last round…  new versions of Majungasaurus and SuvhomimusMajungaFSuchomimus F


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New and diverse uses for Microraptor at the SVP meeting, Berlín 2014.

MicronewBDSCN0171I have a bit of collaboration stories with Scott Foss… mammal guy he is, years ago he commissioned me to do this humorous piece to celebrate what a really oversized Entelodont pig would do to a T. rex…wishful thinking on his part, I know! But gladly he has change sides… only for now!DSC02781

Scott has gone MICRORAPTOR this time! I took the opportunity in SVP in Berlin this year to present  his  new commission: a new recreation of Microraptor to both him and his beautiful and charming partner Merb Jones. She surprised me with the painting already tattooed on her shoulder! Yes… the results were quite beautiful, and in the flesh!  According to the lucky lady, the session was not painful and done by a consummate tattoo artist that did everything in only a four hour non-stop sitting! Never expected such a likeness in of my wok in a tattoo!… Even the colours were impeccable.  I was graciously invited  to sign it!
IMG_6906IMG_6908DSCN0150Berlin SVP fun, but it was even more so because thanks to Jakob Vinther and Nick Longrich (that generously shared their new ideas and evidence with us), my vision of  raptor plumage and Microraptor itself is going to be changed forever… coincidentally that includes Archaeopteryx!

Watch the developments regarding our collective Archaeopteryx exhibition in association with Silver Plume Exhibitions that will be out and about next year. Watch this space in the near future!1797430_641459625975104_8664623235021118778_n


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The 2014 Mexican Experience!

The Mexican ExperienceB

I bet nobody would be expecting >this< as this year’s “Mexican Experience”; but this is one of many surprises I’ve got from the talented dino-modelers that are located in Mexico. You may know him from previous posts: Aldebran Castañeda‘s fully pose able “Fomisaurs” are becoming the rage and he is just getting better and better.  I will be able to talk more about the making of his engineering marvels soon! In the meantime let me present you our latest collaboration: Deinocheirus! You might recognise it from my previous posts and it was a celebration of it final release in the  well reputed Nature  magazine. I will have to  modify a bit the lower jaw of my reconstructions)… but generally it still holds pretty well!

Deinocheirus & TarbosauruslBYou might also recognise this small wonder… another pose able and absolutely stunning Psittacosaurus.DSC01746A magnificent Allosaurus… and several views of the Deinocheirus… simply marvellous!

DSC01839 DSC01828 DSC01762

P1050158Here I am again with Aldo…the  Fomisaurus master!

But Mexico was not just about Fomisaurs. I managed to exchange gifts with another couple of  well reputed, excellent modellers: the worldwide famous Héctor Munive  (Tzipactli Splintersaurus) and Ricardo Servín Pichardo… in our exchange of gifts, both gave me marvels ready to be customised by me and will be subject of another article in this blog in the near future.P1050167 P1050163P1050214 P1050150

Mexico was hard work, but fulfilling to a great extent. From the schools of Metepec, Toluca to my old home, the National University in Mexico City (UNAM) , the audiences were hungry for any palaeontological  event. I continue to “preach” the change of the image in the Dinosauria even if we had have two classes of fourth and sixth grade primary school pupils all mixed together. Here are the pupils from Metepec that I visited the previous week.P1050047 P1050045 P1050044 P1050041 P1050038

I was fortunate to be able to share some joy as every year with the  (needless to say) well informed, great students and paleoart fans of René Hernández and Angel Ramírez from the UNAM. I paid special tribute to René in the exchange of gifts as can be seen in the pictures. He took us to the faculty’s lab to show us some specimens… there were many that were mostly finds from the north of Mexico. Some of them still unpublished but bound to amaze everybody on the day of their future release.



The day at the University was, as usual, a  celebration. My special thanks go  to  the dedicated teachers, paleoartists and fans like Lulú Martín that made my stay unforgettable as usual.


And all despite that at the time everybody was still mourning the assassination and disappearance of over 40 teaching students by the obscure forces that keep a good part of Mexico in permanent state of terror and uncertainty.  Only together we can change this one day!


Posted in Deinocheirids, Dinosaur Models, Dinosaurs, Ornithischians, Theropods, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment